Time Crystals #1: Billy Bultheel. The Thief’s Journal: Songs of Decreation

De Thomas, Prinses Irenestraat 36, 1077 WX Amsterdam
Thursday, 30 May and Friday, 31 May 2024
Doors open at 20:30 
The Thief’s Journal: Songs of Decreation is co-curated by Marie-Therese Bruglacher and Suzanne Wallinga, in conversation with Peter van den Hoogen. Scenography by Andrea Belosi. 

Billy Bultheel, The Thief's Journal, documentation photo, 2023. Photo by Spyros Rennt.

Join us for Billy Bultheel’s captivating performance The Thief’s Journal: Songs of Decreation, which marks the beginning of the Time Crystals performance program — a year-long international initiative curated by Suzanne Wallinga in collaboration with Peter van den Hoogen. Through a curated series of performances, the artists in the Time Crystals program highlight various aspects of sovereignty and focus on subjectivity and freedom of choice, the boundaries of the self and the constant development of individual identity within spiritual, social and political frameworks.

A composer working at the intersection of music, performance, and installation, Bultheel’s compositions traverse diverse genres, melding new music, noise, electronics, and metal with influences from Medieval and Renaissance polyphonic traditions. Exploring architectural space as a musical instrument, The Thief’s Journal: Songs of Decreation is written for nine musicians, crossing live and electronic music with a site-specific performance and scenography within the Brutalist architecture of the Thomas church. 

Bultheel’s The Thief’s Journal: Songs of Decreation takes its name from the semi-fictional autobiography of Jean Genet, the French novelist, playwright, poet, and activist. In this work, Genet deploys religious and Christian language to poetically depict the lives of societal outcasts, including convicts, thieves, and beggars. Paying homage to the writer’s contrasts of high and low culture, the musical language of The Thief’s Journal: Songs of Decreation fuses the religious with the cathartic, the sacral with the industrial, and the communal with the ritualistic. The scenographic framework, too, invites musicians and the audience to navigate a dynamic experience in which music becomes spatial, tangible, and visual—an extraordinary exploration where sound intersects with architecture and movement.

With The Thief’s Journal: Songs of Decreation, Bultheel continues his collaborations with scenographer and architect Andrea Belosi and curator Marie-Therese Bruglacher, with whom he pursues ongoing research into spatial and social choreographies. The Thief’s Journal: Songs of Declaration is performed by Blaise Cardon Mienville (saxhorn), Alexander Iezzi (percussion), Steve Katona (countertenor), Rebecca Lane (flute), Fanny Meteier (tuba), Sara Neidorf (percussion), Thomas Pfaffinger (tuba), Amélie Ratle (euphonium), Adam Sinclaire (flute).

The Thief’s Journal: Songs of Decreation is co-curated by Marie-Therese Bruglacher and Suzanne Wallinga, in conversation with Peter van den Hoogen. Scenography by Andrea Belosi. The Thief’s Journal: Songs of Decreation is co-produced by Surreal Projects and de Brakke Grond, the Flemish Arts Centre in Amsterdam, with support from the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam Art Fund and Flanders State of the Art.

Biography Billy Bultheel 

Billy John Bultheel (*Brussels 1987, lives and works in between Berlin and Brussels) works as an experimental composer and performance artist bridges contemporary composition with techniques and traditions of European Medieval and Renaissance polyphonic music. His music explores performance and installations, often site-specific, leaving the constraints of the concert hall behind in order to find new territory for musical experiences. The musicians become performers, moving through sound tropes, interacting with architecture, sculpture and custom-made instruments.

Amongst his works are The Thief’s Journal for Atonal (Berlin 2023), Workers in Song in collaboration with the artist James Richards at Wiels (Brussels 2023), Mt. Analogue at Bourse de Commerce - Pinault Collection (Paris, 2023), Athens Songs I-IV at the 7th Athens Biennial (Athens 2021), UNTER in collaboration with Tanya Viviana Abelson for the Schinkel Pavilion (Berlin 2021), Songs for the Contract (folia.app 2021), The Minutes of Olomouc at PAF (Olomouc, CZ 2020), and When Doves Cry at the Schinkel Pavillon (Berlin, 2019).

In 2020 Bultheel formed the band 33 with Alexander Iezzi. The duo has released their first album 33-69 on the London/Berlin-based record label C.A.N.V.A.S. in September 2021. The band is modular in nature and has included appearances by musicians Ivan Cheng, Patrick Belaga, NAKED, Steve Katona, CEM, amongst others. They have toured across Europe and are currently working on a second studio release.

In 2012 he started his collaboration with the German performance artist Anne Imhof, working as a performer and composer in Imhof's early performances, movies and installation. He composed music for Imhof's exhibition-as-opera Angst (2016), Faust (2017) and Sex (2019) alongside with Eliza Douglas and Anne Imhof. The music for Faust and Sex have been released on LP on the German record label, PAN. Furthermore, Bultheel has composed music for choreographers Adam Linder, Enad Marouf, Michele Rizzo and for the Satire IXNEYTAI/TRACKERS by Sophocles, directed by Michail Marmarinos, which was presented at the ancient amphitheatre of Epidavros, Greece. Bultheel studied composition at the Institute of Sonology in The Hague, Holland and performance and choreography at the Institute for applied theatre science, Gießen, Germany.